Tag Archives: Big

Baby Bertha – Vauxhall Holden Repco Firenza

After disposing of “Old Nail” at the end of 1974 Bill Blydenstein received funding from Dealer Team Vauxhall to create a new Super Saloon based on a 4 door Vauxhall Ventora saloon shell and fitted with a 476 hp 5 litre / 302 cui Repco tuned Holden V8, Borg Warner T10 gearbox, Salisbury Power Lock differential, AP racing disc drakes, double wishbone suspension on the front with 12″ x 15″ slicks and de Dion rear suspension with 15″ x 15″ slicks.

Vauxhall Holden Repco Firenza, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

Driver Gerry Marshall soon dubbed the car Big Bertha and won three of the six races he started in the beast before it shed some brake pads and ended up in the Silverstone crash barriers, it’s meticulously built shell beyond repair.

Vauxhall Holden Repco Firenza, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

Vauxhall had second thoughts about offering a V8 Ventora to the public in light of the fuel crises, so Bill and DTV decided to build today’s featured Droop Snoot Firenza out of all the bits salvaged from the wrecked shell of Big Bertha.

Vauxhall Holden Repco Firenza, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

It was not long before the car became known as Baby Bertha and over the next three years Gerry raced the car in 40 events and won 37 of them, retired from 2 and was beaten only once by a cheeky little 270 hp Hillman Imp driven by Jonathon Buncombe that was built on a 1971 Chevron B19 sports car chassis and known as The Chimp, soon after it’s win The Chimp was effectively banned from Super Saloon events because of protests regarding it’s wheel base which was longer than the mandated standard Imp length.

Vauxhall Holden Repco Firenza, Piers Ward, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

Paul Haywood-Halfpenny bought Baby Bertha in 1978 and had a disastrous season with it that he reckoned cost him £1,000 per lap, at a time when the average wage was only £5000.

Vauxhall Holden Repco Firenza, Goodwood Festival of Speed,

In the 1980’s current owner Joe Ward bought Baby Bertha after Gerry Marshall, among others, had owned it and raced it one more time to a second place finish at Thruxton. Joe’s son Piers is seen at the wheel in the photo above at Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Thanks for joining me on this “Baby Bertha” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Wheels Festival – Bournemouth

A couple of weeks ago David Roots told me he was going to Bournemouth for the weekend over the Festival of Speed, he advised me it was at the friendly price of completely free so I made a note to pop down for the day myself.

Peerless, "Princess" Bournemouth Wheels Festival,

I was not in the least disappointed with the sheer variety of machines on display some of which were static but obviously ready to go like this 1907 Peerless Steam Engine built in Waynesboro PA.

McLaren P1, Bournemouth Wheels Festival,

Of greatest interest to me were the demonstration runs along East Overcliff Drive, unfortunately there was no literature advising visitors who the drivers were and the pa system tended to get drowned out by the glorious sounds of the motors, above the a 2014 McLaren P1 was among a group of contemporary supercars that included a tyre smoking Chrysler Viper, Mercedes Benz SLS and Porsche 997 and Ferrari Italia.

Ferrari 365 GTB/4, Sally Mason-Styrron, Bournemouth Wheels Festival,

The best sound of the day to my ears came from the 1972 4.4 litre / 267 cui V12 Ferrari which I believe is the former Maranello Concessionaires / JCB chassis #15681 that currently belongs to the Mason-Styrron family and was I believe driven by Sally Mason-Styrron.

Other Le Mans car present included the Ford GT40 chassis #P/1017 shared by Jochen Rindt and Innes Ireland at Le Mans in 1966, and two cars from the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, their 1932 4 1/2 litre Blower Bentley and a 1912 3 litre Sunbeam Coupe de l’Auto team car.

Standard Ten, Peter Clements, Bournemouth Wheels Festival,

Among the “touring” cars present was this raucous 1959 Standard Ten which I believe is owned by Peter Clements and has been a regular at the Goodwood Revival meetings, other cars in this class included a Mini Cooper, Ford Anglia, ex Roland Ratzenberger BMW M3, and Josh Cooks 2015 Racing For Heroes #80 Chevrolet Cruze.

Toleman Hart TG181C, tba, Bournemouth Wheels Festival,

The Formula One display did not disappoint either lined up alongside the well Toleman TG181C “General Belgrano” above were the Benetton B191 driven by Lorina McLaughlin, an Arrows A10B driven by Gerry Harrison, a Lotus Judd 101, Jordan Honda EJ12 and Yamaha Arrows A18.

Lancia Delta Integrale Evo, Mick Wood, Bournemouth Wheels Festival,

While among the Rally cars were Mick Wood’s Lancia Delta Integrale Evo seen above, a WRC Subaru Impreza, WRC Martini Ford Focus and Paul Swift indulged in some show boating with a non standard Ford Escort Mk2.

Big Pete, Grim Reaper, Bournemouth Wheels Festival,

At this point I ventured off to look at some of the static displays which included a 1970’s Austin Princess, and wonderful selection of British sports cars of all ages, above Big Pete and Grim Reaper were parked up when I passed but they could be heard in action from the road above.

Maudslay, "Big Maude", Bournemouth Wheels Festival,

One of the many memorable cars on display closer to the city centre was the 1904 Maudsley above, known as “Big Maud” she was one of the first cars to be sold with an overhead cam engine, the 9.6 litre / 585 cui 6 cylinder overhead cam engine powering this car produced an impressive 60hp, and the car cost nearly twice as much as a Rolls Royce !

Thanks for joining me on this “Wheels Festival – Bournemouth” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a Chrysler Viper. Don’t forget to come back now !


Comic Discovery – Hudson Suburban Sedan

Back on Independence Day during the Rally organised by the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club I came across this delightful 1935 Hudson, unfortunately I did not get any details about the car from the owner at the time so I have had another carcaeology session to discover more.

Hudson Big Six, Model 53

This Hudson chassis #533370, with blue body work probably marketed as Surban Sedan model, was one of just four vehicles first registered in Dundee, where the strap line reads City of Discovery, on the 7th of May 1935.

Hudson Big Six, Model 35

The Hudson was registered to a Mr R D Low of Westleigh, Number 9 Nevill Street, Downfield, Dundee alongside a Morris Saloon, BSA Motorcycle and a 3 ton Commer Coal merchants truck.

Hudson Big Six, Model 35

Robert Duncan Low is known to have been a journalist to the Dundee City Archive, but as we know journalism can cover a multitude of sins and it would appear that Robert was no gum shoe rather he was employed by DC Thompson & Co in Dundee where he was responsible for launching a number of publications aimed at children including Adventure (1921) The Rover (1922) The Wizzard (1923) The Skipper (1930) and The Hotspur (1933).

Hudson Big Six, Model 35

In 1937 Robert became managing editor at DC Thompson and over saw the launch of The Dandy and the following year the Beano for which with artist Ken Reid he created Roger the Dodger in 1953, when he also oversaw the launch of The Topper. Earlier in his career Robert is also credited with co creating the Scottish vernacular comic strips Oor Wullie and The Broons with illustrator Dudley Dexter Watkins.

Hudson Big Six, Model 35

It is not at present known how long Robert Low kept this Hudson he died in 1980 aged 85. This car is reported to have been ‘knocking around the North West of England in the 1990’s’ before it was offered at auction in 2005 when the body was painted maroon and sold for £1,500. The history of the cars original ownership outlined above appears to have been unknown to the auctioneers at the time when the car was noted to have had 4 previous owners with 92,275 miles shown on the clock and the model name was given as Big Six Saloon, the chassis number indicated the car would have been known as a 53 model at the Hudson factory from whence it was probably sent as a knockdown kit for assembly in Brentford west of London.

Hudson Big Six, Model 35

According to the best source I have available 29,476 cars were shipped and it is thought that number included the knockdown kits.

My thanks to John MacDonald form ‘oldcarandtruckpictures.com‘, Jon B, Terraplane 33, Geoff C NZ, Alex ‘Hudsontech’ Burr, Old Fogey UK and Paul Butler over at Hudson Forum who helped me identify this car and finally to Richard Cullen at the Dundee City Archive who provided the final clue as to the original owners identity.

Thanks for joining me on this comic edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Big Block Pagoda – Iso Grifo Super 7 Litri Series I

Iso Rivolta was the brainchild of Italian Engineer Renzo Rivolta who had been responsible for Isothermos refrigeration units prior to World War 2.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

Wishing to move into motorised transport markets Rivolta developed a range of expensive but well built durable motorcycles from 1948 to 1961.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

In 1950’s Renzo developed his best known vehicle the Isetta Bubble Car that was manufactured by Iso in Italy and under licence by Velam in France, Romi in Brazil and most successfully by BMW in Germany.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

After leaving Ferrari in 1961, where he had been responsible for the fabled Ferrari 250 GTO, Giotto Bizzarrini set up his own design studio and in 1963 designed the mechanical architecture of the Iso Griffo A3/L. The Grifo,launched in 1963, featured a blueprinted, a process of disassembling a motor then rebuilding it with all the engine parts matching the exact original engine blueprint design specifications for optimal performance, 400 horsepower small block Chevrolet motor.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

In 1968 the Grifo was made available with a 435 hp Chevrolet 427 big block motor, requiring the pagoda like air scoop on the bonnet to accommodate the extra height of the larger engine,

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

along with extra ventilation in the front wings to keep the motor cool, seen on this vehicle which was built in 1969.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

The Grifo 7 Litri was said to be capable of 186 mph.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

It would appear that just 67 of the 7 Litri Series I vehicles were produced from 1968 to 1970 when the rarer Series II Grifo’s with pop up head light covers were introduced.

Iso Griffo Super 7, Silverstone Classic

The combination of rarity, Bertone styled beauty and mechanical simplicity, a result of using many proprietary parts including the engine and gearbox, makes the Grifo a relatively easy to maintain collectible car.

Thanks for joining me on this 7 Litri edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil psycho on tyres, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t for get to come back now !